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New or Used Brass for Accuracy

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Robert101, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. Robert101

    Robert101 Well-Known Member

    I buy mostly once fired brass from a reputable source for 308 shooting and of course reloading. I'm going to use it many times anyway. I've used fresh new brass but don't see an increase in accuracy for the cost. I typically see once fired, in my gun, to be more accurate than unfired brass. Does anyone else see similar results? So I guess I'm asking if "fire formed" brass that has been resized is more accurate than new unfired brass? In my opinion it is.
  2. 918v

    918v Well-Known Member

    New unfired brass is different from fired/resized brass which is larger dimensionally, has a harder neck, has carbon fouling in the pores of the neck, all of which affect bullet pull and the combustion process.

    I wouldn't say one is more accurate than the other, just that each requires a different load.
  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    You could buy some once fired military long range (LR) brass and it should shoot very well for you.

    Or buy whatever used .308 and sort/prep/weigh/etc and it should shoot pretty well for you.

    Or buy some new Lapua .308, have to do minimal work, and it will shoot very, very, well.

    If you can find some LR brass for a good price, it may be the best bang for the buck.
  4. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

    If you are using fire formed brass in a bolt action and just neck sizing it I would think that is the most accurate for that rifle. Assuming it is decent brass to begin with.

    Accuracy is a very fleeting, subjective, thing. Depends on what kind of shooting you do,
  5. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Doing your own testing, like you have, is the only way to know.
  6. docsleepy

    docsleepy Well-Known Member

    If you neck size it, you'll have less compression and subsequent stretching, which mean you will get more repetitions before a head separation. I strongly recommend in all full power cases that you check with a sharpened paper clip for the little "ditch" that precedes a head separation, every time you reload if you are full length sizing.

    I try to set my FL dies so that I only squish the case by .005 or so (maybe less)-- the minimum possible.

    After a fair number of firings, maybe 7 or 10, you're going to get the neck so hard that it won't size, and the bullets will just drop thru when you try to seat them....and by then you will have noted a surprising develop of INaccuracy .....

    at that point, either throw the brass all away, or else learn how to anneal. This in itself is a sicience unless you have a bunch of $$$ to buy a very very repeatable mechanical rotary system. I have published in another thread my measurements in trying to get neck tension standardized and reepeatable in well-used brass.

    Neck tension variations can easily become the biggest bugaboo in your accuracy equation with well-worn brass.
  7. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I use both, but honestly, as long as used brass is in good condition, and hasn't been loaded before, it is no more or less acurate than new brass. I always resizeand trim new brass prior to loading it anyway, so no real difference for me.

    And I like to run brass through my rifles once to get it formed to the characteristics of the chamber it will be used in. In other words, my rifle brass is dedicated to a particular firearm. Not so with my pistol brass, I'll load my choosen recipe, and then run it in all firearms chambered for that cartridge. About the only exception here is making sure that OAL will function for various AL pistols, which has yet to present a problem for me.

  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I would consider .006 as max, and to be avoided if at all possible.
  9. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    IMO, it's more important to not use mixed brands to achieve consistent accuracy, as I FL resize new brass like I resize used, and I find little difference between the two. I always use batches of the same brand for the consistent case capacity and keep them segregated, and new brass becomes used, and not an issue for me.

  10. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    Like mentioned it depends on what your accuracy requirements are. If your shooting competition and are looking for one hole groups then yes it will make a difference.

    If your like me, and are looking for an accurate hunting load that will simply give you an inch or slightly less groups on average, then it isn't such a big deal. I do however full length size all of my rounds, especially in .308 since I purchased a bulk order of once fired MG cases. When I first got them I found that the standard FL die simply didn't cut it and I had to get the small base in order for them to fully chamber.

    After I sized the whole lot, and believe me that wasn't a fun exercise, they all chamber fine, but I still FL size them after shooting to make sure everything works proper in the field.

    I worked up my loads using H-4895 and these cases and have also used Win, Rem, Federal, and Hornady as well, with the identical load and they will all combined shoot into 2" or less at 100yds. For me this is fine as I normally don't shoot this particular rifle much over that anyway. Even out to 250yds however, they all stay within about 3-4" so again plenty good for my concerns.

    That said I could probably spend the time and effort to shrink the groups down if I wanted to using each case brand individually, but again, the one load shoots good enough in them all that I don't sweat it.

    In my 25-06, brand name means nothing, simply load them with the proper charge of RL-22, and seat the 100, 110, or 115gr bullet to the proper OAL and go shoot or hunt. The only time this particular rifle has had an issue with grouping this load was when the factory stock started to warp. I changed that out and haven't had an issue with it since.

    In my 7mm Rem Mag, I use Remington cases almost exclusively as for what ever reason it simply doesn't like anything else on a consistent basis. With the Rem cases it almost gets boring shooting groups at 200yds, throw the same into any other brand and no dice. Even working with the same combination from a start load to a top end it simply will not group as well. With Rem cases I can switch powders or bullet weights and pull the group into a nice little cluster with not much fuss or muss. Using Win or any other brand, it WILL get there, but it is so much more of a pan to do so I won't even bother anymore.

    So as mentioned if they shoot up to your expectations with your loading process then your good to go. If not try something else.
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Since I don't shoot Benchrest I highly doubt I would see any accuracy variation between new and once fired brass. I agree with the above, I always group brass by headstamp and load them in groups.
  12. docsleepy

    docsleepy Well-Known Member

    Walkalong -- thanks for the comment!

    Easiest way I think to set the FL "squish" is to buy a comparator and measure several different cases that have been fireformed to your rifle's chamber. There is usually a small amount of difference between them, maybe .001 or .002. Maybe I just have a dumb caliper, I dunno.

    Then set your FL sizing die so that you get just a bit under that -- maybe .002 shorter or .001 if you can be repeatable (for a hunting rifle, where a sticky brass would be a problem). I've been surprised how brass doesn't always end up dimensionally where you think it will be! What happened to the brass in the past seems to have a significant impact on what will happen to it in my dies.

    Anyway, after I switched to setting up my dies this way, I got a lot less brass I had to throw away because of incipient head separations.

    I've had a case crack (not completely separate) in a mosin-nagant (which has no gas relief holes) and it was not fun getting a face full of gas/powder. ALWAYS wear eye protection. When I sawed the case in half, the "ditch" is very plainly obvious. After you have felt it with a paper clip, you will know what to feel for from then on.
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Yep, if some people would actually measure how far back they are pushing shoulders it might surprise them. I have a buddy who gets separations in his .308 and he thinks it is normal to just shoot them until he does. I am working on him to fix it. He was shooting very light loads and getting away with it, but finally ran some across my chrono and was shocked to see how slow they were. He has since upped his charge to the Nosler max with the bullet he is shooting, and is very pleased with himself, but his case life is going to get even worse. Maybe soon he will let me help him set up his seater. :)
  14. docsleepy

    docsleepy Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you are having an impact on him. Hope it saves him from an accident.

    I have two different Mosin Nagants that I play with (hit an 800 yard target with one of them recently). They have very distinct chamber lengths. Since this is a rimmed round, both may be within spec for headspace (based on the RIM) but I keep separate cases for them.

    For the OP: my 2cents worth - buying the headspace comparator kit (it uses your calipers) would be the cheapest way to begin recognizing how much you are squishing your brass unnecessarily. I normally simply neck size brass whenever possible, but for hunting applications where the case MUST go in and MUST come out, I full length size. In my benchrest rifle, necksizing is more typical.

    1. Fireform if possible and then necksize alone if possible -- with same headstamp or similar weight brass. But using a headspace comparator and adjusting for snug fit may reduce the advantage considerably! By the way, I collet neck size the full-length sized brass anyway, hoping to equalize the neck tensions and remove any concentricity error.
    2. Trim identically, bevel, then steel wool to smooth out the junction
    3. Always check for incipient head separations
    4. Pocket clean; first time you use the brass, remove any internal burr on the flashhole
    5. Accurate charges -- benchrest guys with $1000 barrels get away with simple powder chargers because their barrels are, and are operated at points where the vertical whip is relatively insensitive to powder differences; for my cheaper barrels, I sometimes individually deliver charges (Chargemaster) because my barrels are NOT so perfect....so I want to make up for it wherever possible
    6. Operate on a charge insensitive point if possible, by optimal charge weight testing.
    7. Quality projectiles
    8. Seated IDENTICALLY
    9. distance from lands controlled per individual desire
    10. Underside of rifle without anything that will "catch" on whatever type rest your prefer. Benchrest front and leather bags rear that provide both lateral and vertical control are the best -- rifle should be able to slide forward and backward returning to identical point, repeatedly
    11. Lightest trigger that is safe for your application
    12. Scope that allows you to see more accurately than your group size

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